Archives for category: Graduation rates

Gary Rubinstein writes here about podcasts in which Chris Stewart of Education Post interviews Robert Pondiscio and Eva Moskowitz.

Gary has made a practice of scrutinizing the data that is available from the Success Academy charter chain, noting the high attrition rate from those who enter in the early grades to those who remain to graduate high school. There is attrition even in the final year of high school, which is somewhat surprising. Perhaps even more surprising is the imbalance among the graduates based on gender: there are far more females than males. What happened to the boys?

Gary Rubinstein is the Myth-Buster of the Resistance. He has achieved this eminent position because of his intolerance for hype, propaganda, and lies.

In this post, he bust the myth that low-income charter school graduates have a dramatically higher college graduation rate than low-income public school graduates.

In fact, he shows, charter school graduates have the same college graduation rate as their mothers!

Education Reform propaganda at The74 would try to make you believe that while low income students generally graduate from college at a rate of about 9%, charter school graduates complete college at a rate of 3 to 5 times that.

The main flaw in any comparison between the college graduation rates of charter school graduates to low-income students, in general, is that the charter school students do not represent a random sampling of the general population of low-income students.

In The Alumni, Richard Whitmire says that charter schools that have 5 times the expected college completion rate are ones that only counted their students who persisted until 12th grade in their charter schools.  Since for some charter schools, this only represents about 25% of the students who started in that charter school, this even more of a biased sample.  But, Whitmire explains, the one network that has the most valid way of doing a fair comparison is the famed KIPP network.  Since KIPP counts, in their data, any students who enrolled in KIPP, even if they left soon after starting.  And he says that KIPP students, including ones who didn’t persist at KIPP, graduate college 3 times the expected rate.

Reform supporting billionaire John Arnold commissioned Mathematica, a data analysis company, to study the college enrollment and college persistence of KIPP students.  Instead of comparing KIPP students to the general population, they compared KIPP students to students who had applied to the KIPP lottery but did not get into KIPP through the lottery.  This is a much more valid way of measuring the impact of KIPP.  The big takeaway, as I wrote about in my previous post, was that students who applied to KIPP, whether or not they got into KIPP, had a college persistence rate of about 3 times the general low-income population and that students who applied but didn’t get into KIPP had about the same college persistence as students who applied and did get into KIPP.  So students to apply to the KIPP lottery are the ones who, on average, were much more likely to persist in college — something that Whitmire never mentions in The Alumni.

But this Mathematica report includes some other relevant data that I didn’t pick up on when I wrote the last post.  Fortunately there was a discussion among some readers who commented on the last post which pointed this out.

In 2018 the National Center For Education Statistics published a report called ‘First-Generation Students College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor’s Outcomes.’  In it they say that about 70% of students who have a parent who completed college also complete college compared to about 35% of students who do not have a parent who completed college.  This confirms what most people would expect for so many reasons and this is why we celebrate when students are the first in their family to graduate college.  It means that the descendants of those students will also be more likely to go to college…

At this point, Gary displays a graph from the Mathematica study.

Notice that last line.  It says that of the students entering the lottery about 27% of them had mothers who finished college.  This makes the fact that about 30% of the students in the study (which includes students who got into KIPP and also students who did not get into KIPP) have persisted in college through four semesters even less surprising.

 

Gary Rubinstein has a deep aversion to hypocrisy, hypes, and propaganda.

He read a widely publicized report saying “research shows” that graduates of KIPP have higher college completion rates than their peers.

But then he discovered that the research shows no significant difference between KIPP students and their peers in college completion rates. 

His post debunks Richard Whitmire’s erroneous claim that KIPP students finish college at a rate three to five times greater than students who went to public schools. It is also a valuable lesson in reading and interpreting research findings or claims that “research shows.”

He begins:

The way reformers misuse data follows a very simple and predictable plan:  First they get some skewed data, then pick a ‘researcher’ to interpret the skewed data.  The ‘researcher’ then writes a report which gets touted in The74, EduPost, and eventually even makes it into more mainstream publications like USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.  Since the report is filled with nonsense and half-truths, within a few weeks the truth comes out and the report is discredited, but not before the damage was done and the spin has made it into folklore.  When this happens, the reformers will then ‘move the goalposts’ and get some more skewed data and start the process over again.

An example of this is the July 2017 report by Richard Whitmire called ‘The Alumni‘.  Whitmire has written books about both KIPP and about Michelle Rhee so I think you get the idea of what his point of view is.  In this poorly researched project he concludes that “Data Show Charter School Students Graduating From College at Three to Five Times National Average“.

This was probably the easiest report I ever debunked.  The biggest flaw was that for most of the charter schools, they were only counting the percent of graduating seniors who persisted in college and then comparing that percent to the overall percent of all low-income students — an apples to oranges comparison.  Whitmire acknowledges this in another post about the methodology in which he says that only KIPP counts students who leave the school before they graduate and that their numbers are much lower, but still at 38% which is at least triple the expected graduation rate for low income students.

A second flaw, and this one is very difficult to compensate for, is that charter school students are not a random sampling of all students since many families choose no to apply to them.  So you get a biased sampling even if you do count all the students who get into the charter school and not just the ones who make it to graduate from the charter school.  And even though I and others have discredited his report, it is something that still gets quoted in the main stream media.

Just recently, however, I learned of a report generated by Mathematica and funded by the John Arnold Foundation.  I think that Mathematica is a very reputable company and even though reformers often hire them to produce reports, sometimes those reports reach conclusions that reformers were not expecting.

In this case, the report called “Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle Schools on College Enrollment and Early College Persistence” , reached a result that completely contradicts Whitmire’s claim that “Charter School Students Graduating From College at Three to Five Times National Average”.

Read on to see just how overblown is the KIPP myth about the college success of their students

Here’s the relevant summary of what they found:

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Why do the Disrupters continue to insist that charter schools will “save poor kids from failing schools,” when the evidence continues to accumulate that this is simply not true.

According to the latest state data for Indiana, the graduation rate is about 87%, with variations among different groups of students.

For charter schools, the graduation rate is 40%. 

Indiana’s high school graduation rate dipped slightly in 2019, with the rate of students needing waivers from the state to earn a diploma, noticeably higher than previous years. 

The state graduation rate has hovered around 87 percent since 2016, but a higher rate of students needed a waiver to get a diploma in 2019 – students get one if they don’t pass their final state exams..

Schools graduated black, English Language Learner (ELL) and special education students at the lowest rates among student groups, at 78, 77 and 71 percent, respectively.

State data also shows non-public and traditional public school graduation rates landed at or above 90 percent for all students. Meanwhile, charter schools graduated students at a rate of 40.2 percent. 

This is an astonishing graduation rate gap between public schools and charter schools.

Who will save poor kids from failing charter schools?

 

The parents of a student in New Orleans were dismayed when they realized that their daughter would graduate from high school even though she could neither count nor read. She was surely entitled under federal law to extra help but she never got it. Now she is a statistic: a graduate. A victory for the all-charter system that failed her.

Dennis Lewis remembers the moment clearly. It was the beginning of the school year, and he was trying to convince his wife that their 18-year-old wasn’t getting the services she needed from her public high school in New Orleans. 

He pulled out a handful of coins from his pocket, and asked his daughter how much money he was holding. 

“Sure enough, she couldn’t count it,” he recalled.

 

The look on his wife’s face — who would die from an aneurysm just three days later — was devastating.

Denesha Gray had just started the 12th grade. A few months later, still unable to perform basic addition, she beamed as she walked across the stage and received her diploma from McDonogh 35 Senior High School.

Gray, who struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder, had been allowed to progress to this point despite several red flags. She couldn’t count money, and she read only as well as a second grader. The system also failed to provide her with the type of tailored education program that her diagnoses mandated until the very end of her high school career.

Gray’s story recalls a sad episode that was once held up as Exhibit A in the failure of New Orleans’ public schools — the story of Bridget Green, who, despite being her school’s valedictorian in 2003, could not pass the state’s graduate exit exam of basic skills.

But Gray graduated in 2018, after being educated almost exclusively in a school system that was held up after Hurricane Katrina as a laboratory for education reform.

Louisiana teacher and activist Lee Barrios posted this online comment in response to the article:

bit.ly/2KCE2k0

Just a sampling of not only how disastrous education reform has been for our public schools in general, but of the damage that continues to be done to the SPED children through pure neglect and, unfortunately, purposeful denial of every child’s right to a public education that meets their needs!  

Although this story thoroughly covers WHAT happened, as good journalistic reporting should, the public must now ask and demand the answer to WHY it is happening.  

Many of us (properly trained and experienced education experts) have been monitoring the progression of the educational experiment dubbed “reform.”  Our  children have been used as the guinea pigs for the experiment. There is no doubt as to WHY the experiment failed.  

As is true of all failed experiments, the hypothesis was flawed (an understatement).  It’s like an experiment based on the idea that if supplementing a cow’s feed with apple cider vinegar will result in increased milk production (true) that adding vinegar when watering our flowering plants will increase bloom. An adept scientist will know or learn enough about the components of the experiment FIRST to tell him from the start that the hypothesis is incorrect – worse than incorrect – it will kill the plant.  

Those who devised the various hypotheses of the educational experiment called reform include Presidents on down through the past few U.S. Secretaries of Education (Duncan, King, DeVos) to our State Superintendent John White.  And finally, placed in many of our classrooms are unqualified instructors (like Teach for America recruits) who are NOT qualified, properly trained or experienced educators.  It’s a fact.  Add to that lack of expertise along with the power and money of the backers of these experiments like  Bill Gates, the Waltons, and Jeb Bush bent on pushing their false theories.  Then quickly followed a long list of investors, politicians and charlatans and you have what we see today – our children, our public schools and our teachers “dying” – and many of us would say death by design. 

Many educators (and now parents) locally, nationally and even internationally have sounded the death knell for years. Our protests were particularly loud after Hurricane Katrina when the orchestrated takeover of New Orleans schools took place.

The volume increased in 2010 with the Race to the Top scheme pushed by Bobby Jindal.  We have been flailing our hands treading water ever since as John White was appointed State Superintendent via a waiver of qualifications by a corrupt or at least blind majority of BESE members whose campaigns were funded by millionaires and billionaires who succeeded in fooling the voting public that Might is Right!  

The single most important weapon used to facilitate the destruction of our public school system has been the use of our HIGH STAKES standardized test.  Imagine that.  One single test that combined with the disastrous Common Core Standards to which the test is aligned and the bogus unresearched  and unproven curriculum (that which is being taught in the classroom) has captured total control over our local school districts.  

And to make sure that the use of these three components of the experiment produce the desired results (privatization through school failure) an invalid accountability system was devised that has fooled the public into “believing” the results of John White’s manipulated and complicated formula of School Performance Scores. 

ALL FACTS folks.  We have the evidence. We have the proof which many of us allege to be fraud, malfeasance, and coercion.  But no one with the authority to conduct a full investigation has listened or taken action.  NO ONE!  It has been like standing at the bottom of the mountain warning that an avalanche is imminent but nobody in the restaurants and expensive homes below want to believe that the status quo is about to be disastrously broken!  Questioning if it could be possible that their lives are in danger of being changed forever.  

It too bad that the greatest victims have been our innocent children.  Let’s Stop!  This experiment is a failure!  

Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT

Candidate – BESE District 1
La. Board of Elementary & Secondary Education

 

 

 

 

 

The Connecticut State Board of Education hired a new state commissioner who pledged to raise the graduation rate, close the achievement gap, and “Ensure that all students have increased access to opportunities and advantages that they need to succeed in life.”

What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what every new commissioner promises? Has any new commissioner in any state achieved those goals?

Ann Cronin, veteran educator, explains why these are tired cliiches and what a visionary approach would look like. 

First, would be to change the term “graduation rate”  to something like the graduating of well-educated high school students. Currently, graduation rates make good headlines but can mean very little in terms of student learning.

“Credit retrieval” is a common practice in public schools with low graduation rates. “Credit retrieval” allows students to make use of often dubious computer programs that, in no way, equal courses in academic subjects, yet  the students get credit for the academic courses. In doing so, students increase the graduation rate for their schools but do not have adequate learning experiences.

Charter schools have another way to increase their graduation rates. They “counsel out” students who are likely to not graduate before they get to be seniors which leaves only a pre-selected group as seniors and, unsurprisingly, they all graduate. And lo and behold, the charter school has a high graduation rate. For example, one year at Achievement First’s Amistad Academy in New Haven, 25 students out of 25 in the senior class graduated, but 64 students had been in that class as ninth graders.

A visionary way to increase the number of students who receive a high school education is to not count the number of students who receive high school diplomas but rather count how many of the students who begin a school as ninth graders complete the coursework necessary for graduation. For example, some innovative public high schools hold Saturday classes with actual teachers instead of plugging kids into commuter programs. The applause should be given to high schools who deliver a quality education to all the students who begin their high school education in the school not to the schools who either give credits without the academic content and skills or who dismiss those who won’t make for a good statistic.

Read her essay to see her critique of “closing the achievement gap,” which is impossible when the gap is based on standardized test scores which are designed to have a gap.

I am reposting this post because the main link was dead and I fixed it. Also, it was originally titled “The D.C. ‘Miracle’ turns to Ashes,” and a reader said a miracle can’t turn to ashes. So it has a new title.

 

A year ago, reformers were touting D.C. as their triumphant example. Those graduation rates!

Unfortunately, like every other reformer tale, it was a hoax. The graduation rate was phony. Students were walking across the stage without the necessary attendance or credits. Metrics!

From PBS:

“Critics view the problems, particularly the attendance issue, as an indictment of the entire data-driven evaluation system instituted a more than a decade ago when then-Mayor Adrian Fenty took over the school system and appointed Michelle Rhee as the first chancellor. Rhee’s ambitious plan to clear out dead wood and focus on accountability for teachers and administrators landed her on the cover of Time magazine holding a broom. But now analysts question whether Rhee’s emphasis on performance metrics has created a monster.”

Ya think?

And the teacher-turnover rate is 25% a year! 

The national average? Only 16%. In fact, D.C.’s teacher turnover rate (across both traditional public and public charter schools) is higher than other comparable jurisdictions, including New York, Chicago and Milwaukee.

For both public and charter schools, the highest turnover is taking place at schools with the most at-risk students, with the rate pushing past 30% in Wards 5 and 8.

This is the fruit of Michelle Rhee’s work. A district that continues to have the largest achievement gaps of any urban district tested by NAEP, a phony graduation rate,  and a startlingly high teacher turnover rate. Another “reform” hoax.

 

The University of New Orleans was one of the first to jump into chartering after Hurricane Katrina, and it just announced that it is closing down its charter organization, New Beginnings, as a result of a slew of academic problems and malfeasance.

After allegations of grade-fixing and a major fiasco involving class credits that left dozens of students unable to graduate, the public charter board overseeing John F. Kennedy High voted Thursday night to surrender its charters to operate both of its schools.

The surrender of the charters, which will take place at the end of the 2019-20 school year, was approved unanimously by the New Beginnings Schools Foundation board.

The decision stemmed from a lengthy investigation into management problems at the charter network that led earlier to the resignation of its CEO, career educator Michelle Blouin-Williams, and the firing of five high-ranking administrators at Kennedy…

The problems leading to the collapse of one of the city’s oldest charter organizations first surfaced in February, when the organization’s data director, Runell King, alleged that other staff members had improperly changed grades for a group of seniors who had recently taken an Algebra III class. 

King, who was fired a month later in what he said was retaliation for reporting the alleged grade-fixing, submitted documents showing that F’s were changed to D’s and D’s to C’s, a move that ultimately could have helped the school bolster its graduation rates and, in turn, improve its performance score issued by the state…

By July, the grade issues along with other management problems resulted in a determination that more than half of Kennedy’s senior class of 177 students had not actually earned enough credits to graduate.

The seniors included 69 who walked in a graduation for 155 students, but did not actually qualify to graduate. They were given folders with no diplomas during the school’s May 17 graduation ceremony, and had college or other plans thrown into turmoil as officials tried to unravel how the problems had happened.

I wonder if the Education Research Alliance at Tulane University will revise its glowing report about dramatic improvements caused by market reforms, specifically its reference to increased graduation rates.

Perhaps an audit is needed to find out how many other charters falsified their data.

 

Mercedes Schneider reports a welcome development in New Orleans: in the wake of a grade-fixing scandal, all student records will be audited.

As she says, it is about time. After so much boasting from NOLA, it’s time to check the facts.

She writes:

This is a long time coming.

As a result of the grade-fixing scandal at a New Orleans charter high school– a scandal that resulted in 49 percent of the school’s Class of 2019 being found to lack credits and/or exit exam scores– Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) superintendent, Henderson Lewis, vows a criminal investigation of that school, Kennedy High School (operated by New Beginnings Schools Foundation) as well as an audit of student records for students attending New Orleans high schools.

 

 

Mercedes Schneider Reports the story of the New Orleans charter school that awarded diplomas to its seniors, but had to revoke 49% of them after a whistleblower pointed out that these students lacked the credits needed to graduate. 

She writes:

Just shy of half of the Class of 2019 at John F. Kennedy High School at Lake Area did not meet graduation requirements and are therefore not eligible to receive the diplomas that they may have expected to receive when they participated in a graduation ceremony on May 17, 2019. (I write “may have expected” because at the time of the ceremony, both students and the general public knew the school was under investigation for grade fixing.)

That’s 87 out of 177 graduates, or 49 percent (which, by the way, indicates a four-year graduation rate that is at best 51 percent.)

Scandals like this do not begin and end in a single year. And this scandal was not uncovered by state or district oversight. Like too many charter school scandals nationwide, revelation of what you will see described by the board president of the charter organization (New Beginnings Schools Foundation) as “malfeasance and negligence that had for years gone undetected” depended for its detection upon a whistleblower.

How sad for the students that no one warned them. Some will make up their credits in summer school. Others are so far behind that they will have to repeat the year.